1. ” Bright Minds in the Land of Fire ” is the theme of the Olympiad. I hope to talk about the history of fire in Azerbaijan and its importance. But for now the chess has started. The sensation was the draw SA women’s champion WIM Denise Frick obtained against Dutch champion and board one Anne Haast. Denise played the Sicilian and obtained a good position by activating her pieces on good squares. A good performance by the board one. The team lost 3.5 but that draw would give her some good self confidence. It was a tough outing against the Netherlands team for the women although they lost they played well in stages.
In the Open section South African beat Swaziland 4-0. South Africa outranked Swaziland on all four boards and proceeded to beat their opponents without any difficulty. Calvin Klaasen making his Olympic debut was surprised when his opponent said he is being hard on him! Calvin took it in his stride and took the point joyfully. Watu was his normal tactical self and proceeded to smother mate his opponent. His opponent resigned when he saw Nf2 coming.
Tomorrow South Africa plays Romania in the open section. This will be a true test for South Africa and we wish them well. The ladies play the United Arab Emirates. They are seeded twelve places above UAE and should be able to take the points all things being equal.
2. Overview of African Results
I will proceed now to list the results of the African countries but I will only start with my spreadsheet in a day or two as twelve African countries did not pitch for round one. These countries were :
2.1 Sierra Leone
The results for the African countries were
1. Russia vs Nigeria 4-0. My friend Bomo played Karjakin and when I asked him afterwards how it went he just said I played Karjakin and we laughed!
2. Azerbaijan A beat Zimbabwe 4-0. The games were not easy with Rodwell Makoto SA women’s champion 2012 holding Mamedyarov for some time.
3. Morrocco vs Netherlands. Giri led his team to a 4-0 victory.
4. Azerbaijan 2 beat Mozambique 3.5 with top Board Vigerioa drawing on board one.
5. Bulgaria vs Sudan ended in a 2-2 draw. This was a sensational result with the Bulgarians having Topalov on board one but only succeeding in drawing against their opponents whom they handsomely outrated! Well done Sudan.
6. Tunisia lost 4-0 to Brazil.
7. Italy beat Namibia 4-0. Namibias board two Leo Muller is playing his eleventh Olympiad and has played over 100 games at the Olympiad.
8. Kazahkstan beat Mauritius 4-0.
9. Denmark had a default win over Malawi.
10. Slovenia beat Libya 4-0
11. Egypt showed their class when they beat Hong Kong 4-0. The team is led by GM Bassem sporting a 2667 rating with newly crowned African champion Abdelrahman Hicheon board four claiming a win after a long day in the field.
12. Iceland beat Ethiopia 4-0
13. Botswana lost 4-0 to Iran. An interesting feature of Iran’s team is that they have a number of teenagers who made the team on merit!
14. Colombia beat Ghana 4-0
15. Finland beat Cameroon 4-0
16. Venezuela beat Mauritania 4-0
17. Belgium beat São Tomé 4-0
18. Mali defaulted against Ireland
19. Monaco beat Tanzania 3.5 to 0.5
20. Ivory Coast 4- Mexico 0. Yes you read that right. Mexico pitched with two players and the arbiters then defaulted them as they must have three players.
21. Tajikistan scored a default win against Sierra Leone
22, Liberia defaulted against Kyrgyztan
23. Burundi defaulted against the Dominican Republic.
24. Senegal defaulted against Algeria.
25. Somalia played valiantly against Ecuador but lost 4-0
26. Gambia defaulted against Zambia 4-0
27. Faroe Islands beat South Sudan 4-0
28. Congo defaulted against Luxembourg
29. Djibouti defaulted against New Zealand
30. Ipca vs Togo 4-0
31. Costa Rica scored a default win against Lesotho
So Sudan did Africa proud! I was disappointed with the number of defaults as it doesn’t augur well for the competition because it spoils the tiebreaks and doesn’t allow teams to get into rhythm. I see some of these teams are paired in round two so let’s see who pitches up.
3. In the women’s section the results were as follows :
Vietnam beat Morocco 4-0
France beat Zambia 4-0
Liberia defaulted against Algeria
Botswana scored a draw on top board when Francis Onkemetse drew. 3.5 to Austria.
Peru beat Zimbabwe 4.0
Tunisia lost in straight sets to Montenegro
Brazil beat Malawi 4-0
Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Namibia 4-0
Mozambique lost 4-0 to Turkmenistan
Egypt beat Pakistan 4-0
Swaziland lost 4-0 to Estonia
Lesotho lost 4-9 to Azerbaijan
Chile beat Ethiopia 4-0
Jordan beat Sierra Leon 4-0
Tanzania lost 4-0 to Malaysia
Djibouti lost 4-0 to Belgium
Sudan lost 4-0.
I must verify which women’s teams pitched up as I was not able to verify this section.
4. Other interesting aspects of round one included :
4.1 The President of Azerbaijan accompanied by Fide President Kirsan ilzumnihov made the first move of the event. Because of the visit security was very tight with the players not even being allowed to take cameras in today!
4.2 I greeted Nigel Freeman and met up with Eldo, the president of Chessa who was smarting because he was not allows in the playing area even though he was head of delegation. Grandmaster Grivas explained to us that he doesn’t want too many spectators in the playing area. Perhaps a point worthy of debate. Who all should be allowed access to the playing area?
4.3 I saw the biggest flag in my life which is the Azerbaijani flag flying above the building neighbouring the playing hall. Very impressive.
4.4 The sponsors include Socar which is the oil and gas company, Qatar Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
4.5 Swaziland is planning the Swaziland Open in the next few months. This may be an exciting event to compete in.
4.6 I spotted many friends I met last month in Uganda. The Egyptian grandmaster El Gindy is the captain of Saudi Arabia.
4.7 The African champion Adbelrahman Hichem from Egypt is now sporting a short brush cut after having being drafted into the army. He has been granted furlough to compete in this event and the Baku Open following this.
4.8 Grandmaster Jon Speelman drafted a petition against the rule that players must tell the arbiters when they are going to the bathroom.
4.9 I greeted GM Maurice Ashley who is the team captain of the Ivory Coast.
4.10 GM Judi Polgar is captain of the Hungary Open team.
4.10 International Arbiter Gunther Van Den Bergh was the appointed Arbiter for the board two match of the United States.
5. Concluding remarks
The nerves would’ve settled a bit now amongst the players. We all going to go sleep a bit early tonight as we are still suffering from jet lag having flown more than 24 hours yesterday. Tomorrow a number of us are going to gym at 8 and then have a leisurely breakfast before we start preparing in earnest.
Sleep well colleagues.
Reporting live from Baku, Azerbaijan
Dr Lyndon Bouah